Who Is Affected by PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) is an anxiety illness that can affect anyone, even someone who was previously in good mental health.
PTSD is estimated to affect 6.8 percent of Americans (aged 18 and up) at some point in their life. The lifetime incidence of PTSD is higher in women than in men (9.7 percent for women, 3.6 percent for men), but the disorder is well-known to affect people of both genders.
Sadly, PTSD can also affect children and teens. Those who suffer abuse are especially vulnerable to the effects of PTSD.
Why Do Some People Get PTSD?
Researchers have not conclusively stated what the cause of PTSD is. Though several people may live through the same difficult experience, not all of them will go on to develop PTSD.
There are theories about brain chemistry and genetic predisposition. For example, some people may be more likely to develop PTSD than others because of the amount of certain chemicals in their brain. Also, people who have family members with anxiety-related illnesses may also be at a higher risk for developing PTSD.
What Can Lead to PTSD?
Usually, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is triggered by a particularly tragic or upsetting event. In many cases, being in a situation which poses a threat to one’s life can lead to PTSD.
Some of the most common events which trigger PTSD are being in a war or going to combat, being physically assaulted, and losing a loved one. Dealing with the illness of oneself or of one’s spouse can also be an emotionally draining experience which can contribute to the development of PTSD.
Can PTSD Be Prevented?
Recently, mental health specialists have started searching for ways to prevent people from developing PTSD. People who are known to be “high risk” for PTSD may be given preemptive treatment. Thus far, this has typically been done for people who are in various branches of the military.
Some experts have also attempted to provide therapy for people immediately following exposure to a traumatic event. The results of preventive treatment have been quite promising so far.
How Do Mental Health Experts Treat PTSD?
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is one of the most effective means of treating PTSD (as well as a number of other mental health conditions).
Some of the types of cognitive behavioral therapy used for PTSD are cognitive therapy and exposure therapy.
In cognitive therapy, the patient is taught to carefully and analytically examine his or her thoughts. Healthy ways of coping with negative feelings after a trauma are also explored.
Exposure therapy for PTSD involves working through the emotions (e.g., fear) tied to a traumatic event. One eventually learns to view the past event calmly and without the level of angst that can affect one’s quality of life.